Original Research - Special Collection: Religious studies

In search of an appropriate contemporary approach in Christian ethics: Max Weber’s ethic of responsibility as resource

D. Etienne de Villiers
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 71, No 1 | a2948 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v71i1.2948 | © 2015 D. Etienne de Villiers | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 21 March 2015 | Published: 31 August 2015

About the author(s)

D. Etienne de Villiers, Department of Dogmatics and Christian Ethics, Faculty of Theology,University of Pretoria; Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Humanities, University of Pretoria, South Africa


The article addresses the question: ‘To what extent can Max Weber’s ethic of responsibility be a helpful resource in the search of Christian Social Ethics for an appropriate contemporary approach’? This question is addressed by, first of all, providing a summary of Weber’s famous speech Politics as a Vocation in which he developed his view on the ethic of responsibility; secondly, providing an interpretation of his view; and, thirdly, critically discussing the extent to which this ethic can serve as a resource for Christian Social Ethics in its search for an appropriate contemporary approach. The conclusion is that although some aspects of Weber’s view on the ethic of responsibility are unacceptable to Christian Social Ethics, the core of it is commendable. Some of the implications of incorporating an ethic of responsibility approach in Christian Social Ethics are also briefly discussed.


Christian Social Ethics; Ethic of Responsibility; Ethic of Conviction; Max Weber; Late-Modernity


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